Tuesday, October 31, 2006

why hallowe'en?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
hallowe'en. now known mostly as halloween. really, its a shortened version of all hallows eve - a pagan holiday that has its origins in ireland. the ancient celts noticed that the bright half of the year ended on october 31st of each year. the dark half of the year, winter, they associated with death. the end of summer the celts saw as highly spiritually resonant - when the boundary separating the living and the dead became blurred.

the ancient celts celebrated all hallow's eve with a fire feast - a bon fire would ward off any evil spirits that may travel to earth from the other side. the festival day sort of became solidified into celtic and saxon culture when, in the 8th or 9th century, pope gregory moved the catholic 'all souls day' - a day to remember all souls condemned to purgatory.

the tradition of trick or treating appears to have its origins in the all souls parades that took place in england. the poor would go door to door, begging for food, and families would give them pastries , called soul cakes, in exchange for a promise to pray for dead family members. in ireland, children would go door to door collecting nuts and sweets, etc for the festival.

so ... why do we still do the trick or treat thing? i mean, think about it. we invest so much time, effort, energy and resources teaching our children not to talk to strangers. remember, being a kid, and the constable would come to your class and tell you all about the bad people who want to lure you into their cars or houses with candy? so .... ? why do we spend soooo much time, effort, energy and money promoting a festival that involves our kids going door to door and begging for candy from strangers?!

i just don't get it. the tradition has gotten so warped by the commercialism ... the capitalism ... in our society. all hallows eve now seems so far removed from its roots. its not about remembering the dead. its just about consumption. how grotesque!

2 comments:

Lady Prism said...

This is a quite a newly adapted tradition where I am..Wow..you should see the rich kids trottled by their parents..ha!ha!ha!..hmmmm..come to think ov' it....it's mostly in the rich areas..villages where trick or treating takes place...the "masa"..or common people haven't embraced much of the idea yet...My kids I'm afraid never went trick or treating eihter coz' the time they were babes..me Hubz' and I were kinda' heavy into the churchy' things...

Right now however, the official start of the Christmas season has been ushered...I'm expecting lil' carolers to come a' singing any night soon!

mantissa said...

its really a silly thing ... they don't follow it in most parts of europe. M. (husband) thinks its ridiculous.